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McCarthy Rejects Senate Spending Bill  09/29 06:17

   A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as House Speaker Kevin 
McCarthy dug in Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate legislation 
designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House 
Republicans' struggle to unite around an alternative.

   WASHINGTON (AP) --- A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as 
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dug in Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate 
legislation designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House 
Republicans' struggle to unite around an alternative.

   Congress is at an impasse just days before a disruptive federal shutdown 
that would halt paychecks for many of the federal government's roughly 2 
million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and 
reservists, furlough many of those workers and curtail government services.

   But the House and Senate are pursuing different paths to avert those 
consequences even though time is running out before government funding expires 
after midnight on Saturday.

   "I still got time. I've got time to do other things," McCarthy told 
reporters Thursday evening at the Capitol, adding, "At the end of the day, 
we'll get it all done."

   The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund 
the government until Nov. 17 as longer-term negotiations continue, while also 
providing $6 billion for Ukraine and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief.

   The House, meanwhile, took up four of the dozen annual spending bills that 
fund federal agencies. Republicans were heartened as they passed three bills 
that would fund the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and 
State Department, though the fourth bill to fund federal agriculture programs 
failed.

   In one sign of deepening resistance to assisting Ukraine, more than half the 
House Republicans voted against providing Ukraine $300 million in military aid, 
though the money was approved on a bipartisan 311-117 vote.

   The House's movement on the appropriations legislation won't keep the 
government from shutting down, but leadership hoped the progress would cajole 
enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that 
temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the U.S. border with 
Mexico.

   It's a long shot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.

   Lawmakers, already weary from days of late-night negotiating, showed signs 
of strain at McCarthy's closed-door meeting with Republicans Thursday morning. 
It was marked by a tense exchange between the speaker and Rep. Matt Gaetz, 
R-Fla., according to those in the room.

   Gaetz, who has taunted McCarthy for weeks with threats to oust him from his 
post, confronted the speaker about conservative online influencers being paid 
to post negative things about him. McCarthy shot back that he wouldn't waste 
his time on something like that, Gaetz told reporters as he exited the meeting.

   McCarthy's allies left the meeting fuming about Gaetz's tactics.

   With his majority splintering, McCarthy is scrambling to come up with a plan 
for preventing a shutdown and win Republican support. The speaker told 
Republicans he would reveal a Republican stopgap plan, known as a continuing 
resolution or CR, on Friday, according to those in the room, while also trying 
to force Senate Democrats into giving some concessions.

   But with time running out, many GOP lawmakers were either withholding 
support for a temporary measure until they had a chance to see it. Others are 
considering joining Democrats, without McCarthy's support, to bring forward a 
bill that would prevent a shutdown.

   With his ability to align his conference in doubt, McCarthy has little 
standing to negotiate with Senate Democrats. He has also attempted to draw 
President Joe Biden into negotiations, but the White House, so far, has shown 
no interest.

   Biden sought to apply more pressure on McCarthy, urging him to compromise 
with Democrats even though that could threaten his job.

   "I think that the speaker is making a choice between his speakership and 
American interests," Biden said.

   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Congress and the White 
House had already worked out top-line spending levels for next year with an 
agreement this summer that allowed the government to continue borrowing to pay 
its bills. But McCarthy was deviating from that deal and courting a shutdown by 
catering to Republicans who say it didn't do enough to cut spending, he said.

   "By focusing on the views of the radical few instead of the many, Speaker 
McCarthy has made a shutdown far more likely," Schumer said.

   McCarthy insisted in a CNBC interview that the House will have its say. 
"Will I accept and surrender to what the Senate decides? The answer is no, 
we're our own body."

   But later at the Capitol, he openly complained about the difficulty he is 
having herding Republican lawmakers.

   "Members say they only want to vote for individual bills, but they hold me 
up all summer and won't let me bring individual bills up. Then they say they 
won't vote for a stopgap measure that keeps government open," McCarthy told 
reporters.

   "So I don't know, where do you go in that scenario?"

   The speaker also hinted he has a backup plan but gave no indication he was 
ready to work with Democrats to pass something in the House.

   Meanwhile, the White House, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, 
notified staff on Thursday to prepare for a shutdown, according to emails 
obtained by The Associated Press. Employees who are furloughed would have four 
hours on Monday to prepare their offices for the shutdown.

   The White House plans to keep on all commissioned officers. That includes 
chief of staff Jeff Zients, press secretary Karine Jean Pierre, national 
security adviser Jake Sullivan and other senior-level personnel, by declaring 
them "excepted" during a shutdown, according to the White House email.

   Military troops and federal workers, including law enforcement officers, air 
traffic controllers and Transportation Security Administration officers, will 
also report to work because they are essential to protecting life and property. 
They would miss paychecks if the shutdown lasts beyond Oct. 13, the next 
scheduled payday, though they are slated to receive backpay once any shutdown 
ends.

   Social Security payments for seniors, Medicare and Medicaid payments to 
health care providers, and disability payments to veterans will continue, as 
much of the government will continue to function. But there will be critical 
services that do stop. For example, the U.S. Treasury says that, with 
two-thirds of IRS employees potentially furloughed, taxpayer phone calls to the 
agency will go unanswered and 363 Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the 
country will close.

   Many Republicans have voiced fears they would be blamed for a shutdown -- 
including in the Senate, where many GOP members are aligned with Democrats on a 
temporary bill.

   Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he agrees with many of the 
goals of the House Republicans, but he warned a shutdown will not achieve any 
of them.

   "Instead of producing any meaningful policy outcomes, it would actually take 
the important progress being made on a number of key issues and drag it 
backward," McConnell said.

   Nevertheless, Senate Republicans huddled for much of the day to cobble 
together a plan that could win support to boost funding for border security. 
McCarthy's House allies were also hoping the threat of a shutdown could help 
conservatives with their push to limit federal spending and combat illegal 
immigration at the U.S-Mexico border.

   "Anytime you have a stopgap situation like this, you have an opportunity to 
leverage," said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. "This is another opportunity. America 
does not want an open Southern border. The polls are crystal clear. It's having 
a profound impact on us."

 
 
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